Things seemed to be cruising along on Thursday night for John Lackey. He had given up a mere five hits through 6.1 innings, allowing one run on a Yoenis Cespedes home run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Joe Maddon must have seen something he didn’t like because he pulled Lackey after he gave up a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning and replaced him with Joel Peralta. Peralta looked awful, giving up a walk and a run-scoring single before Maddon replaced him with Pedro Strop.
With the score 3-2 and the Cubs clinging to a narrow lead, Strop would need to execute perfectly to stop the runners on second and third base from scoring with one out. The very first batter, Neil Walker, hit a short chopper to Javier Baez, who promptly airmailed the throw past Kris Bryant at third base, allowing two runs to score and giving the Mets a 4-3 lead.
To be certain, it was a baffling play from a guy we’ve seen make a ton of amazing ones. With the quick catch, my first thought was that Javy would throw to home to force out the runner there. I have to believe that Kris Bryant expected the same and was caught off guard when the throw whizzed by him. That play, along with a bad outing from the bullpen, ended up costing the Cubs the game. They lose 4-3 (Box Score).
Stats that mattered
- Lackey pitched a great game – 6.1IP, 2R, 5H, 2BB, 5Ks, 1HR
- Cubs were 0-for-7 with RISP and left 11 men on base – ouch!
- Kris Bryant’s two-run, first inning home run gave the Cubs the early lead
- Javier Baez added a towering solo shot in the sixth inning
- Ben Zobrist was solid again from the lead-off position, getting his third straight game with two hits from the top spot.
The Javier Baez error stung. It happens, he made a bad decision followed by a bad throw. But Javy is solid and I’m not really upset at all by the error. What irks me the most is Joel Peralta.
I have to be completely honest, I never understood the Joel Peralta signing and I was even more dumbfounded by his call up to join the Cubs. I would be happy if I never saw him again but, alas, Joe will certainly give him another chance. I just hope it’s when the Cubs have a comfortable lead because if you look at his recent history, you’ll find a 40 year-old guy who’s had a plus 4 ERA each of the last three years. Not exactly the type of guy you’d wanna throw into the mix of bullpen that’s seen it’s share of struggles lately.
Bottom line – the Cubs clearly need to focus on the bullpen prior to the trade deadline.
The Cubs take on the Mets on Friday at 6:10 PM CDT behind Jason Hammel (7-4, 2.58 ERA). It’d be a great time for Jason to get back to his early season form.